Skip to main content

Depression has become an integral term used in American society to colloquially describe sadness. However, depression, also known as major depressive disorder (MDD) or clinical depression, is listed as a medical illness in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) and is recognized as a serious mood disorder. Major depressive disorder is characterized by persistent sadness and a lack of interest or pleasure in previously rewarding or enjoyable activities resulting in significant impairment in daily life. Depression is one of the most frequent mental health illnesses that teenagers experience. Findings from the National Institute of Mental Health in 2017, report nearly 3.2 million adolescents between the ages of 12 to 17 had experienced at least one major depressive episode. The various symptoms associated with depression can range from mild to severe.

Causes and Risk Factors

There is no single identifiable cause of depression, rather Harvard Health asserts that there are many possible causes of depression. The Cleveland Clinic provides examples of factors that may play a role in its development, including but not limited to the following:

  • Brain chemistry: abnormalities in brain chemical levels may lead to depression.
  • Genetic vulnerability: a family history of depression can increase one’s propensity for developing depression.
  • Life events: stress, the death of a loved one, upsetting events (trauma), isolation, and lack of support can cause depression.
  • Medical conditions: ongoing physical pain and illnesses can cause depression. Depression is a common comorbidity of other illnesses such as diabetes, cancer, and Parkinson’s disease.
  • Medication: depression is a side effect of some medications.
  • Recreational drug and alcohol use: can cause depression or exacerbate one’s depression.
  • Personality: people who are easily overwhelmed or have trouble coping may be prone to depression.

Certain situational risk factors could increase a teenager’s susceptibility to developing depression, including the following stress triggers provided by the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry:

  • Schoolwork (e.g., homework, projects, exams, etc.)
  • Extracurricular commitments
  • Problems with school friends and/ or peers
  • Low self-esteem
  • Separation or divorce of parents
  • Body changes
  • Death of a loved one
  • Being overscheduled 
  • Family financial problems
  • Moving 
  • Switching school

It is normal for situations that are stressful, painful, and/ or difficult to elicit fluctuating emotions. As a teenager, it is to be expected to endure the entire spectrum of emotions during adolescence: including feelings of sadness, elation, depression, frustration, pride, accomplishment, anxiety, calmness, etc. For the typically developing teenager, although the feelings may be intense, they are also fleeting and will generally subside as quickly as was their onset. A young person who suffers from clinical depression has a chemical imbalance in his or her brain, resulting in an inability to return to an emotional equilibrium as quickly as others when experiencing an emotional low. To be diagnosed with depression, a young person’s symptoms must fit the criteria outlined in the DSM-5.

For Information and Support 

Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. To maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times. Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, long term. Pursuing support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.

OUR KNOWLEDGEABLE ADMISSIONS TEAM CAN BE REACHED 24/7 AT INFO@PACIFICRTC.COM OR CALL: 800-531-5769 We are available to answer any questions you may have regarding mental health treatment and our residential program, anytime. Contact us today using the form to the right.

Close Menu
Back to top